Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Words I want to hear

It's a blustery time. And not just because it's fall.

It's an election year, and the we're rounding the bend into the home stretch (atlongfrickenlast, since the election cycle has turned into a multi-year-long forced march).

We finally have our finalists for the gold medal round, and we got the conventions -- those absurd and expensive spectacles where the already-done officially happens, the same trite already shoe-worn rhetoric gets retreaded, political celebrities get to preen, and where all those election-addicted political activists can get together and whoop it up. Everyone deserves a party on the public tab every now and then.

But after that, we're left with the wind of words -- that barrage of blustery, inflated, time-worn and focus-group-tested, value-laden and good-feeling terms that makes a candidate look like he stands for something, without really revealing the brittle stilts the nice ideas stand upon.

"Change," of course, is Sen. Obama's favorite. A time-tested term, especially in times of strife and economic uncertainly. Which is most of the time. The Senator is also fond of "hope," a word with the benefit of being monosyllabic -- easy to remember, easily slipped into even the smallest cracks in a conversation, even if it is rather passive an activity, implying a somewhat helpless reliance on some power or authority. A president, perhaps. Or a political party.

Sen. McCain is fond of "law" and "protection" -- phrasing that suggests a speaking from that position of power and authority, and that is well-established, fatty, rich language that's always good for hooking a large chunk of Fast Food America. Beyond that, rather than brandishing his own visionary lexicon, Sen. McCain seems to prefer spending his time disparaging the words Sen. Obama favors.

What I don't hear are words that say what we really need and want to hear today. I, myself, would like to for once hear someone take the initiative to whip out some new words that are truly suited to the realities of the 21st century world, and that perhaps really can work as compass bearings toward principles and programs our leaders need to be employing to guide us from those positions of power and authority in this still-new century.

"Enough." There's a word I'd like to hear. Just that word, as a guiding principle, a statement of position. You want change, Sen. Obama? A change would be a leader leading us by saying what we all need to hear, and won't from any industry or politician: "Enough! You know what? We're fine! We're there! We did it, and now it's time to slow down and see how long we can make it last."

Which brings us to another word I'd like to hear: "Share." It would work nicely with "enough," in fact, as in, "We have enough, and we're doing so well we're going to share what we have with those who don't have enough." For Sen. McCain, this might be a nice alternative to the more belligerent connotations of relying on "law" and "protection," offering the sense that perhaps we can find real hope and make real change (a chance for McCain to pull a judo move on Obama's own favorite handles) by changing how we interact with the rest of the world.

"Enough" and "share" also have the benefit of leading logically to a third vague but value-filled term: "Enjoy." Those three terms together (if Mr. Bush were running for President again, he might cleverly brand those three points "the Axis of Anti-Evil"), I argue, make a solid tripod of talking points on which to support a real "revolution" (another favorite political platitude) truly suited to the world we face ahead of us in the 21st century:

Let's enjoy and share and keep alive the good things we already have.

You want hope? Protection? Find a way to make that platform law.

And that's some rhetoric that really would make me say "hope."

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